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Fusional Languages

A few Native American languages are described as "fusional" languages. This means that words in those languages are made up of multiple morphemes, or parts-- a phenomenon known as synthesis, or polysynthesis if the words thus formed can have many morphemes in a row (something that is true of many Native American languages.) However, in fusional languages, unlike most polysynthetic Native American languages, the meaning of each morpheme is not independent of the others. Each morpheme can convey multiple pieces of grammatical information, or a string of several morphemes cannot be deconstructed or teased apart because they have become fused together and the individual components can no longer be recognized by speakers of the language.

There is another type of polysynthetic language known as an agglutinative language, which can also have long words with many morphemes, but the morphemes each have a distinct meaning and each one can be added or dropped from a word independently. Fusional polysynthesis is rare in indigenous American languages. Most polysynthetic languages in the Americas are agglutinative instead.

Here are some examples of fusional Native American languages:

Amuzgo
Apache
Ayoreo
Navajo
Salinan
Takelma
Yokuts

Further Reading

 What Is A Fusional Language?
 Polysynthetic Languages
 Wikipedia: Fusional languages



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